Jay-Z: Classic Or Dud?

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Artist of the Year according to at least one reader - but what do the rest of you think?

Tom, Tuesday, 9 January 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Jay-Z is an interesting case. I've never been fond of him, or even tolerant, really. There are some of his old freestyle demos available on Napster which he did with a fellow who's now dead and, according to one knowledgeable friend, he doesn't sound "too herb-ish." Which is to say that said friend finds him to be quite herb-ish to begin with. Some like him nontheless. However he's not artist of the year, that's for sure.

JM, Tuesday, 9 January 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Only if you demand both quality AND inescapability from one's artist of the year. He's certainly up near the top on either list alone I guess.

He might be canny foil-chooser of the year though - I mean, Timbaland *and* The Neptunes? What taste! What class!

Actually I'm more looking forward to hearing Mystikal's album than "Roc La Familia", Mystikal's voice-like-DMX-on-bad-acid notwithstanding, because the production duties are split between The Neptunes and Earthtone III. I mean, that's just gotta be the album of the year right there.

Tim, Tuesday, 9 January 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I would have no problems with Jay-Z if he would stay away from:

- musicals involving children

- Egyptian flutes

- women who can't sing

The fact that he's released some absolutely killer singles is completely offset by the fact that some of his other singles are screaming heaps of dung. I am impressed with how he writes, though (the process and not necessarily the results, although when he's on he's fantastic).

Dan Perry, Thursday, 11 January 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Fast approaching classic status, on "Dynasty" he even drops the irritating kids and the rest is beats, bass & and blazing horns Scorcese-style (don't know why a lot of tracks have that Goodfellas/Casino feel).

o.munoz, Monday, 15 January 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Subject line a misnomer of course; it depends on how, when and where. Large chunks of "Dynasty" are terribly by-the-numbers and predictable, and "Anything" is of course excruciating and impossible to hear without throwing up. At best, he's untouchable. "Is That Yo Bitch" is unstoppable, and 95% of the Life & Times album is awesome. But 50% of him is only as good or as bad as his producers. That's not at all a criticism.

Robin Carmody, Monday, 15 January 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

two months pass...
Weird figure, that Jigga. When I first heard Volume 2: Hard Knock Life I was very disappointed, but I grew to like it more than most records. The thing is, Jay-Z is a hero for the times: he writes and raps equally well, he's a shrewd businessman (much as I hate to say it) and the producers he works with (especially Timba, Swizz and Rockwilder) save their best work for him. He's an interesting character, quiet and considered in interviews, quickly upset in clubs, treated with either extreme respect or absolute contempt depending on which bunch of hiphop fans you speak to. And yet...he drops the hot records, drives the fast cars, rocks the most ice - what are these discussions to him?

Laavanyan Ratnapalan, Saturday, 17 March 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

seven years pass...

http://www.timeout.com/london/music/features/5088/Jay-Z-interview.html

good interview.

titchyschneiderMk2, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 11:35 (eleven years ago) link

I certainly wish I could wear glasses like wot he was wearing at Glasto without looking like ein tit.

PS 'Hello Brooklyn 2.0' is the fckn shiznit

linea, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 11:51 (eleven years ago) link

"When I listen to Amy Winehouse, I believe that her heart and soul is in the music, or if I listen to other British artists like Duffy or Estelle."

^^ wonder if he's aware of the "controversy" around this.

banriquit, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 11:58 (eleven years ago) link

Never piss off a potential guest verse customer.

Noodle Vague, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 12:00 (eleven years ago) link

saw him live yesterday. SUCKED

rizzx, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 12:20 (eleven years ago) link

he did 'American Boy'

rizzx, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 12:20 (eleven years ago) link

and 'Umbrella'

rizzx, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 12:21 (eleven years ago) link

three months pass...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2008/oct/25/jay-z-imagine

how is jay-z managing to get so much attention from the mainstream? esp when his peak was several years ago? fucking bizarre. he must have some phenomenal PR muscle behind him.

titchyschneiderMk2, Sunday, 26 October 2008 13:22 (eleven years ago) link

he's been saying all along that the goal of his "post-retirement" stuff was to expand his audience beyond hip-hop listeners.

i guess it's been working.

then again its not like annual #1 singles make for an underground rapper.

8 HOOS Dog (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Sunday, 26 October 2008 16:24 (eleven years ago) link

he's been saying all along that the goal of his "post-retirement" stuff was to expand his audience beyond hip-hop listeners.

― 8 HOOS Dog (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Sunday, 26 October 2008 16:24 (4 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

By which he meant "Europeans"?

Carrie Bradshaw Layfield (The stickman from the hilarious 'xkcd' comics), Sunday, 26 October 2008 16:30 (eleven years ago) link

Not a zing, I honestly think that's what it's a codeword for.

Carrie Bradshaw Layfield (The stickman from the hilarious 'xkcd' comics), Sunday, 26 October 2008 16:30 (eleven years ago) link

how is jay-z managing to get so much attention from the mainstream? esp when his peak was several years ago? fucking bizarre. he must have some phenomenal PR muscle behind him.

― titchyschneiderMk2, Sunday, October 26, 2008 9:22 AM (3 hours ago) Bookmark

I posted this to the clueless questions thread, fyi.

Tyrone Quattlebaum (Hurting 2), Sunday, 26 October 2008 17:09 (eleven years ago) link

the assertion that Reasonable Doubt is "recognised as one of the greatest hip-hop albums ever" is straight-up bull fritters.

RONG

Tyrone Quattlebaum (Hurting 2), Sunday, 26 October 2008 17:12 (eleven years ago) link

Pete Cashmore's an odd one. He's absolutely useless, but he does have a very "rap journalist" name, so he retains his pass.

Carrie Bradshaw Layfield (The stickman from the hilarious 'xkcd' comics), Sunday, 26 October 2008 17:14 (eleven years ago) link

he was otm with everything else, just not the thing about RD not being a classic album.

titchyschneiderMk2, Sunday, 26 October 2008 19:15 (eleven years ago) link

i remember reading that and wanting to write in. surely he could have at least googled some rap top 10 lists or something? it's not like it's a weird idea to think RD is that good

t_g, Sunday, 26 October 2008 20:04 (eleven years ago) link

im probably in the minority of people who think vol 2 is a better reflection of who jay-z is/was in terms of what he brought to/did to hip-hop but rd is still good.

titchyschneiderMk2, Sunday, 26 October 2008 22:18 (eleven years ago) link

Excellent programme - some absorbing talk from the Hova about his life, his methods of working and his likes and loves, and plenty of Glasto footage.

Good for Yentob - it could have been a disaster but he seemed genuinely into it.

Highly recommended.

synths and drum machines (e.g. Simmonds) (Marcello Carlin), Wednesday, 29 October 2008 09:17 (eleven years ago) link

i.e. the Imagine documentary on BBC1 last night. Public service broadcasting doing what it ought to do.

synths and drum machines (e.g. Simmonds) (Marcello Carlin), Wednesday, 29 October 2008 09:18 (eleven years ago) link

^^^^^
this. the glasto footage had the hairs on the back of my neck standing up.

or something, Wednesday, 29 October 2008 10:10 (eleven years ago) link

two years pass...

I often find myself catching on to new little nuances in Jay-Z lyrics. Maybe I'm just slow on them to begin with, dunno. But I was just thinking about the line "Fresh out the frying pan into the fire/I be the music biz number one supplier." And I always heard that line as a nice little "rap game/crack game" thing, but I took the frying pan/fire part as kind of a throwaway, and it didn't occur to me until now that it was part of the same analogy.

IMO it's things like that that make Jay-Z a great rapper. He almost never wastes time with easy "I x like [guy who does x]" or "I'm x [because it rhymes with the next line]"-type lines unless there are several additional layers of meaning going on.

The Corner Stander, The Suggest Ban Hammer (Hurting 2), Friday, 18 February 2011 21:42 (eight years ago) link

five years pass...

it's funny, it's been so long now since he's done anything but listening to Vol 2 Hard Knock Life today and goddamn he was really something

Ride or Die's verses are so mindblowing

blonde redheads have more fun (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 15 December 2016 16:46 (two years ago) link

though the album's ongoing conceit that memphis bleek is getting ready to take over the family business for jay is p funny in retrospect (though honestly hand it down and esp. coming of age (da sequel) are really amazing)

blonde redheads have more fun (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 15 December 2016 16:47 (two years ago) link

eight months pass...

the Rap Radar podcasts on Tidal with Elliot Wilson and Jay are pretty fucking amazing, the most open he's ever been and just to hear him talk about the music business is pretty amazing, especially when he talks about stuff like Magna Carta and the deal he made w/Samsung, not counting Tidal streams or illegal downloads on Billboard, basically just the idea that he looks at stuff by the money, like I create this work and I am going to do it the best way at the time, like he got $10M cash for Magna Carta from Samsung...how many artists get that (after royalties, managers, label costs, video costs etc etc) for a big record?

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 8 September 2017 13:40 (two years ago) link

five months pass...

Still his worst single because it was so damn omnipresente.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 23 February 2018 02:18 (one year ago) link

yeah that one was always annoying to me, such a lazy chorus, hardly any melody - glad it's no longer on the radio

niels, Friday, 23 February 2018 07:30 (one year ago) link

Yes, and the Pac original is such a classic

piper at the gates of d'awwww (voodoo chili), Friday, 23 February 2018 16:17 (one year ago) link

It's weird, he's like 90s Aerosmith now, where a big portion of people who know him have never even heard his great albums

It's not delivery, it's Adorno! (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 23 February 2018 16:19 (one year ago) link

it's a bummer cause he has 6 amazing albums

piper at the gates of d'awwww (voodoo chili), Friday, 23 February 2018 16:21 (one year ago) link

yeah sometimes I hear an old song on a spotify radio station or something and it's like goddddaamn it he used to be so amazing (happened w/dead presidents recently)

i think there's ppl for whom black album is year 0

It's not delivery, it's Adorno! (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 23 February 2018 16:23 (one year ago) link

I was expecting the link to be about Big Pimpin.

MarkoP, Friday, 23 February 2018 17:03 (one year ago) link

if you think ’03 Bonnie & Clyde’ is worse than 'New York State of Mind' and the Linkin Park mash-up and 'Young Forever' idk

Whiney G. Weingarten, Friday, 23 February 2018 17:23 (one year ago) link

I was expecting the link to be about Big Pimpin.

― MarkoP, Friday, February 23, 2018 10:03 AM (nineteen minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

FP

they call me melo gelo (Spottie), Friday, 23 February 2018 17:23 (one year ago) link

yeah wtf

k3vin k., Friday, 23 February 2018 17:59 (one year ago) link

Already covered Alicia Keys, no desire to endure her again, thanks.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 23 February 2018 18:47 (one year ago) link

Shining is really great

kolakube (Ross), Friday, 23 February 2018 20:05 (one year ago) link

I was expecting the link to be about It’s a Hard Knock Life.

Mr. Snrub, Saturday, 24 February 2018 17:03 (one year ago) link

FP for you as well

they call me melo gelo (Spottie), Saturday, 24 February 2018 17:39 (one year ago) link

the song so bad ... people are remaking it two decades later?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxcrBGUYnxA

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Saturday, 24 February 2018 20:31 (one year ago) link

history moves on without mr snrub

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Saturday, 24 February 2018 20:31 (one year ago) link

hard knock life and big pimpin are bad...very curious

It's not delivery, it's Adorno! (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Saturday, 24 February 2018 20:46 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

Man, his American top ten hits as a lead artist are not the best demonstrations of his talent.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 9 July 2019 11:27 (four months ago) link

hey Alfred, what chart stuff are you referring to with Can I, Hard Knock etc not charting? they felt like such bigger hits than the stuff on that list

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 9 July 2019 19:54 (four months ago) link

i think he means the period (the entire 1990s basically) where airplay had much more of an influence on charts than sales because people just didn't buy CD singles.

mott the hoopleheads (voodoo chili), Tuesday, 9 July 2019 20:01 (four months ago) link

MTV play likely made up a lot of that ubiquity; feels like there was a time when big pimpin was on 24-7

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Tuesday, 9 July 2019 20:04 (four months ago) link

i think he means the period (the entire 1990s basically) where airplay had much more of an influence on charts than sales because people just didn't buy CD singles.

it's the reverse situation, actually, at least in the 90s. cd (and cassette) singles were actually doing quite strong numbers all the way through that decade, and plenty of the biggest titles on the hot 100 were being driven overwhelmingly by their retail performance, especially those whose airplay was coming primarily from formats that were at the time not represented in the hot 100's formula. the situation that complicated the charts during that decade was that labels, in an effort to maximize album sales, were dramatically reducing the number of radio singles that they would actually release to retail. because billboard, until the end of 1998, stipulated that singles could only appear on the hot 100 if they were available in stores, this ended up meaning that at any given time before that rule revision, many of the most omnipresent hits of the day were not listed on the hot 100 at all -- a complete picture of the nation's biggest hits could only be gleaned by looking at the hot 100 and its airplay component chart (where the retail-absent hits could be found) together.

some other hits' hot 100 showings were driven by a sort of compromise between being fully retail-available (and thus presumably cutting away at album sales) and being retail-unavailable, even after the eligibility requirements were changed. the three non-top-10 singles alfred mentions in the post are good illustrations: both "can i get a..." and "big pimpin'" were available only on 12-inch vinyl (so they would have qualified for listing on the hot 100 even under its old rules), but had very minimal sales powering their placement (for instance, "can i get a..." was a top 10 airplay hit but stopped at #19 on the hot 100). "hard knock life" was in the same situation... for most of its chart run. two months after its airplay peak -- it had already fallen entirely off the hot 100 and the airplay chart -- cd and cassette versions of the single were finally released to stores, so it re-entered the hot 100 and reached its peak of #15 with essentially no airplay behind it.

another common strategy at the time was to manufacture a limited quantity of a single -- often 500,000 units, the minimum required for a gold certification -- then sell it at rock-bottom price to ensure that virtually no copies would be left by the time the single reached its airplay peak, thus leaving consumers with no option but the album. (in the meantime, its lofty soundscan numbers would hopefully ensure an eye-popping chart debut.) essentially, labels were frequently operating under the assumption that it was best for a big airplay hit to be absent from retail at the peak of its exposure. sometimes they could manage an impressive-looking chart peak while trying to pull off that maneuver, and sometimes they instead pulled off something that just looks bizarre in retrospect.

from late 2001 thru 2005, it largely did not matter what configurations, if any, a single was available in, as the retail singles market had essentially been killed off and virtually every single on the chart was being driven almost entirely by airplay. 2005 was the year digital download sales started being counted for the hot 100.

dyl, Wednesday, 10 July 2019 03:22 (four months ago) link

Yeah guys, duh!

stan by me (morrisp), Wednesday, 10 July 2019 03:34 (four months ago) link

lol sry i always go way too deep on the charts shite

dyl, Wednesday, 10 July 2019 04:27 (four months ago) link

(I actually think it’s rly interesting, I didn’t know all that)

stan by me (morrisp), Wednesday, 10 July 2019 04:34 (four months ago) link

Also worth noting that Hard Knock Life is still his biggest hit worldwide until Empire State Of Mind, the low US chart placing is a bit of an anomaly.

Siegbran, Wednesday, 10 July 2019 11:21 (four months ago) link

God I still remember seeing the video for Dead Presidents on BET, absolutely floored me....got goosebumps

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Wednesday, 10 July 2019 18:35 (four months ago) link

i loved when rappers aspired to lexus's

big city slam (Spottie), Wednesday, 10 July 2019 18:47 (four months ago) link


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